Tokyo-based company Sakumaseika — the manufacturer of the Sakuma Drop hard candies featured in Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies — is going out of business and will stop producing its iconic candy in January 2023. The company cites rising production costs, labor shortages, and drops in sales as reasons for its bankruptcy.
The Sakuma Drop candy products are made from real fruit juices, containing eight flavors like grape, apple, lemon, strawberry, pineapple, Japanese peppermint, chocolate, and orange. It is usually stored in an iconic red tin, which featured Setsuko Yokokawa from Grave of the Fireflies on one of its designs. The tins are also collector’s items in some circles.
Established by confectioner Sojiro Sakuma in 1908 during Japan’s Meiji period, Sakumaseika produced the candy throughout the air raids of World War II. The company has said it hadn’t raised the price of its product because they don’t want to pass down surging production costs to the customers. It employs over 100 workers, whose job securities remain uncertain at this time.
Studio Ghibli featured the candy prominently in Grave of the Fireflies, where an orphaned girl carries the product’s red tin around with her big brother. It is one of the siblings’ few remaining possessions after their home is destroyed. It is used by the brother as storage for his sister’s ashes when she passes away at the end of the film.
Rival manufacturer Sakuma Confectionery Co, which was founded when its management team parted ways with Sakumaseika after the war, has announced that it will continue to produce and release a similar product called Sakuma Drops. Instead of a red tin, the confusingly named product is stored in a green tin.
Many fans of the Sakuma Drop candy paid their respects on social media after hearing news of its discontinuation.
The maker of Sakuma Drops is going out of business. This candy, which is probably best known today for its appearance in the 1988 film Grave of the Fireflies, was first manufactured in 1908. https://t.co/zwqVv8yreO pic.twitter.com/b260mVHjiQ— Jeffrey J. Hall 🇯🇵🇺🇸 (@mrjeffu) November 9, 2022
Par rapport à la News du jour qui circule aujourd’hui sur les bonbons du film Le Tombeau des Lucioles— Mathieu guide Tokyo Kyoto (@tokyovisite) November 9, 2022
Il faut préciser que c’est la société Sakuma Shiki Drops qui fait faillite (boîtes en haut) mais pas Sakuma Drops (boîtes en bas) qui eux continueront d’être produits👍🏻 https://t.co/ek8hS8oODO
Despite the discontinuation of Sakuma Drops, the Grave of the Fireflies red tin is still available to be purchased in the U.S., France, and the United Kingdom.
Note : the "Grave of the Fireflies" candy tin by Sakuma Drops is still available in many countries, for example :— Catsuka (@catsuka) November 9, 2022
USA : https://t.co/j8QuUlcB57
France : https://t.co/aVjZRcKVAX
UK : https://t.co/B5pJiYTqng pic.twitter.com/1bWZzzgd36